Penguins hire Jim Rutherford as GM, fire coach Dan Bylsma
Coach was in limbo before hiring of new GM
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Friday that they've hired Jim Rutherford as the team's new general manager and fired head coach Dan Bylsma.
Pittsburgh also announced that interim GM Jason Botterill is now the associate GM, while Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald were named assistant GMs.
The Rutherford hire was announced first, and immediately after being introduced he delivered the news about Bylsma.
The coach had been in limbo since last month's dismissal of GM Ray Shero. The Penguins at the time said they were retaining Bylsma and allowing the new GM to decide his fate.
Bylsma guided the Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory in 2009, but since then the talented squad has suffered a string of premature playoff exits, including this year's second-round defeat to the New York Rangers.
"Dan is a good man and a good coach, but I thought we needed a change in direction moving forward,” Rutherford said in a release. “I have no doubt that he will go on to be a head coach in the National Hockey League and have success.
"The search for our new head coach will begin immediately.”
Pittsburgh joins Vancouver, Carolina and Florida as teams looking for a new bench boss.
'Important summer' for Rutherford
Rutherford, 65, ended his 20-year tenure as the Carolina Hurricanes (formerly Hartford Whalers) GM in April while remaining in an advisory role as team president. Ex-player Ron Francis was hired to replace him.
Carolina won the Stanley Cup with Rutherford as GM in 2006, but has failed to reach the playoffs in the last five seasons.
Rutherford played 13 seasons in the NHL as a goaltender, including parts of three seasons with the Penguins from 1971-74.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to return to Pittsburgh and become general manager of a franchise that I’ve always admired,” Rutherford said in a release. “To have the chance to work with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the talented group of players assembled here is something that any GM would dream of.
I’m looking forward to getting to work right away — it’s going to be an important summer.”
Rutherford said at a news conference later that he expects to hold the job for only two or three years while he grooms Botterill and the assistant GMs.
With files from The Canadian Press